Veterans Aid receives £50,000 boost from Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity
February 20, 2020
Veterans Aid has received a grant of £50,000 from The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and its partner funder Greenwich Hospital in support of ex-servicemen and women in crisis who served in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
Arthritis ended David’s career in the Royal Navy whilst he was still in his twenties. By the time he arrived at Veterans Aid, his problems had been compounded by homelessness, mental health issues, drug use and debt.
The camaraderie he had found in service life was a distant memory.
‘My family are military – my old man did 32 years as a submariner and I suppose . . . on the back of that really . . . I enjoyed the life of moving around. I joined when I was 22.’
David served on two ships, HMS Albion and HMS Diamond. He recalls:
‘We went to Norway, doing the cold response with the Royal Marines. Norway was very cold, -30 degrees at times. We’d spend 30 minutes outside, followed by an hour indoors to keep warm enough. We had a great time.’
However, ‘one of the hardest things about coming out [of the Navy]; you go from being around so many people, to being an island really. I think that’s what triggered some of my downward trajectory.’
He’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder before seeking the charity’s help and views the condition as the catalyst for many of his problems.
‘It was difficult for family and friends and I would get myself in lots of debt during manic episodes. I had to go from place to place . . . until finally I ended up homeless.’
After being referred to Veterans Aid, David was put in a hotel for four nights while a room was found for him at the charity’s residential facility, New Belvedere House.
‘The quickness of it was unbelievable. It was swift, and all paid for. I haven’t wanted for anything yet, they’ve been amazing.’
Isolated and using drugs to regulate his moods, David had ridden a roller coaster of highs and lows, but at New Belvedere House, with the help of his VA keyworker and a mental health specialist, he has been able to get his life back on track.
‘Since being in here I’ve not touched anything, I’m on the right diagnosis. My old neighborhood is full of temptation and bad circles and I don’t want to go back there. Here I’m registered with a local doctor and I feel healthier.’
Within a month of his first contact with VA, the debt that David described as his ‘ball and chain’ was being tackled. Once he had gained back mental stability, VA were able to support in applying for jobs within IT.
Moving into New Belvedere House also meant returning to the East End where David had grown up. Despite early misgivings about the area, in this return to beginnings, he has gained new hope for his future.
‘I’m feeling much more positive. At Veterans Aid they’ve instilled more confidence in me.’
*A pseudonym has been used to protect our client’s privacy.